Effects of abiotic factors on growth and chemical defenses in cultivated clones of Laurencia dendroidea J. Agardh (Ceramiales, Rhodophyta)
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Laurencia dendroidea shows high inter- and intrapopulation variability in the amount of the sesquiterpene elatol, caused by genetic variation as well as environmental factors. To test the independent effect of physical and nutritional conditions, the growth and the levels of elatol in L. dendroidea clones were evaluated under different conditions of temperature, salinity, irradiance, and culture medium in the laboratory. Growth of L. dendroidea was clearly affected by all these factors, but elatol levels were influenced only by temperature and salinity. Better conditions for growth did not produce a similar effect on elatol production in L. dendroidea, contradicting the carbon/nutrient balance and growth/differentiation balance models. On the contrary, severe conditions of temperature and salinity promoted a decrease in elatol levels, as predicted by the environmental stress model. Our results using clones indicated that abiotic factors clearly take part in fostering chemical variations observed in natural populations, in addition to genetic factors, and can promote differential susceptibility of plant specimens to natural enemies.
We are grateful to the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientıfico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ) for financial support. RCP, MTF, and AT thank CNPq for their Research Productivity fellowships, and DBS thanks CNPq for her PhD fellowship.
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